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False Elegy

By , Belmont, CA
I have seen flawless marriages:
My parents had one such.
They were so utterly, evenly at odds;
Opposites, with all that that implies - identical in every way but
One, and in that one so different. They were:
Fire and ice, heaven and earth,
Angel and beast - a pair that echoed pairs
Past and future, defined by all the elements of eons,
Old, obedient; yet they refused to keep their place,
Trading back and forth and back and forth,
'Til which was which no-one could say.
Their flawless, angry marriage made them like - so like,
Indistinguishable and unique.

There was mother dearest, ephemeral, elusive,
Here and there, there and back,
Swinging from extreme to extreme;
She might: grind cigarettes to dust without ever breathing in on one day,
And shoot up white dreams of China on the other,
Laughing as she did so 'til she screamed and threw porcelain at his head -
Ignoring him and his refusal to see it
Both,
Because she could.
Perennially telling us that she'd kill herself properly
Before her fiftieth birthday could roll around
And catch her unawares in front of the mirror
With her own face in its hand,
Tired and peaceful.
How she hated that thought, my mother!
(She was thirty for so many years, and then we caught her out back
With sugar and honesty,
Murdered her by blowing out the candles that she loved,
Forty six, gone).
She wanted to go out in a blaze of glory,
Wanted to burn the world before she went,
Devour it all in her personal flame,
A death like a fireworks finale
To her life of pyrotechnic display.
Such a melodramatic stereotype; such a beauty.

Father outlived her (of course).
Although whether either of them really lived
Is up for questioning at every passing moment
Frost never claims to be like the green things it strangles,
Sparks can be smothered without taking a breath
In any case I digress; he existed beyond her
I think
He was a man of snickering and shielding,
Reserved, cool-headed,
Louder than she when enraged, but precise with his words
Like
Knives:
After all he was a traditionalist,
Who'd cut you down to size with a kindly gleam in his eye,
Because he was an honest man, and expected truth for his trouble.
Brilliant, in a bloodless way, a person who understood what he believed,
Its limits and its strength,
Who worshipped knowledge and questions and twisting insubstantial words;
Logos and logic were his primary gifts, alternate ways to reassemble the world
He couldn't quite see when he closed his eyes and imagined.
(He always did have trouble visualizing, my father, and never remembered
His dreams).
So complex, a web of analogies and thought, careful denial of reality,
Obsessive and passionate and good at building walls of common sense and
Lethargy, behind which he was
Perhaps too often lost in descriptions of sleek, silvery, supposed wonders:
(He always did like his science fiction). Artificiality appealed to him,
The hard-edged perfection of it;
And paradoxically, he held that his beloved robots could never quite recapture
Wonderful, stupid, horrendous humanity, which was alien to him, and lovely.

They made me, these two
My mother providing a core and my father the seventeen outer layers
Which means of course that I am both of them, diminished:
I'll never have their sort of love.
Dirtbound clodfooted man chasing bright intangible woman, Apollo





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